Walking Gear and Equipment
Steve on the hiking trail
You don't need a lot of expensive special gear to head out on the walking trails, but you do need a few things. For us it means packing an extra duffel bag to carry our walking gear when traveling to England. A good outdoor store, like REI, will have everything you need.
If you forget anything, there are two good outdoor shops in the Cotswolds - Landmark in Broadway and Cotswold Outdoor (large store similar to REI) in the Cotswold Water Park south of Cirencester.
This is the walking gear that we bring.
Hiking boots - Light walking shoes are good for city walking or short countryside walks, but if you are heading out for a few hours you need hiking boots. They give you good traction, protect your ankles and deal with the mud and wet. Look for a waterproof, light-weight hiking boot. Get good hiking socks to wear with your boots. They give extra padding.
Hiking clothes - In summer we wear light-weight cotton hiking trousers and in winter we have warmer hiking trousers. If you have trousers that you use only for hiking, you don't get your regular clothes muddy. Choose trousers that will wash and dry quickly. In summer we either wear t-shirts or light cotton shirts. In winter we wear zip up fleeces.
Sun hat - England is not famous for its strong sun, but it is frequently sunny in the summer and you need a hat. Steve wears a Tilley hat and I have a light cotton hat with a wide brim.
Day backpack - We each have a small (20-25 liter) day pack with good padding on the back, padded shoulder straps and a hip/waist belt.
Water bottle - Get a water bottle that you can fill with tap water. We carry a 1/2 liter per person at least when going on a two to four hour walk. You don't need as much water when hiking in England as you do in dryer locations.
Walking poles - Not essential, but they make walking easier. In the Cotswolds we usually walk with one pole, not with two. For more serious hiking, like in Switzerland, we use two poles, but the easy hiking in the Cotswolds, one pole is enough to help.
Miscellaneous - Whistle (for emergencies), flashlight, compass, first aid kit (antiseptic cream and a few bandages), small packs of kleenex (for trips to the woods), granola bars.
Wet weather gear - You can always expect rain. Bring a good quality gortex-like hiking rain coat.
Cold weather gear - Fleece sweater, fleece gloves, wool hat. I keep these in our packs always in spring/fall/winter in case the weather changes.
Picnic things - We usually pick up sandwiches (at the nearest supermarket - preferably Waitrose - or a bakery or deli) to have a picnic on the walking trail. I bring two kitchen towels to use as table cloths. I have a small cold pack to keep the sandwiches cool.
Map - Always have an Ordnance Survey map of the area with you in case you get lost or want to do a different hiking route.
When we are traveling around the Cotswolds we keep all our hiking gear in the trunk (boot) of the car so we are always ready to do a hike. Since our boots can get muddy we either put them on a towel in the trunk or keep a couple of grocery shop plastic bags to keep them in. This keeps the mud off the car and our other things.
Over the years we have refined the gear we take when walking based on our experiences and recommendations from our hiking friends (Jonathan introduced us to walking poles and Marta explained to me why hiking in jeans is a bad idea). We usually end up carrying things that we don't use, but if we had a sudden weather change we would be happy to have them.